Shadow education secretary pledges better childcare provision

27 Sep 16

Labour has launched a childcare taskforce that will consider new policy proposals to provide affordable, high-quality childcare fit for the 21st century in order to help parents get into work.

At the party’s conference in Liverpool, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the commission would consider what was needed to help every child to fulfil their potential and boost social mobility.

She said that excellent childcare changes lives for the better, highlighting the role of Sure Start centres under the last Labour government.

“They changed the lives of three million children and their parents,” she told delegates. “The Tories have now closed more than 800 Sure Start centres, and more to come. Shutting the door in the faces of our children and their parents.”

The taskforce will be chaired by Unison deputy general secretary Liz Snape, who will work with the shadow education team and childcare experts to develop the proposals.

“Our aim will be to provide the care and support for every child to fulfil their potential, and to help parents back to work. Access to affordable, high-quality childcare and early years learning is one of the most effective drivers of social mobility,” Rayner stated. “Getting it right will improve the life chances of countless children across the country. That must be our mission.”

She told delegates she would “fight with every breath in my body” against government plans for new grammar schools, accusing prime minister Theresa May of telling “fairy tales” about the role of schools in social mobility.

“The new prime minister has talked a lot about meritocracy. It’s a pity she hasn’t appointed her Cabinet on merit though, isn’t it? But if Theresa May is talking about meritocracy, let me tell her that every child has merit.

“She has produced no evidence that grammar schools help social mobility. Selection – or segregation as it should be called – entrenches division and increases inequality.”

Labour would also look to improve the accountability of every academy and free school to the local communities they serve, she added. “No more fat cat pay cheques to consultants and self-appointed bureaucrats.

“Every single penny [will be] spent on providing the best education for all our children.”

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